Thursday, April 24, 2014

Astronaut - Whispers from the Past

by Donato

Whispers   rough sketch    7" x 5"
Last year at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, I was in discussion with a couple regarding a private commission.  Not having specific content which to create a work from, I invited them to browse through my sketch book for direction and called attention to a few rough concepts I had been investigating.  A few of these concepts had made their way onto my cork board collection of ideas to develop into finished oil paintings when a bit of free time opens up in my schedule.  My wish list.  Likely hell will freeze over before free times opens up to finish most of these as I have had little free time in nearly twenty years as a working illustrator.

But that day, a little cool wind blew in to brighten my afternoon.

My clients selected a sketch I loved, that of a young child stooped over an astronaut buried in the stratifying layers of forest undergrowth.  Much like the artists Jeremy Geddes, Greg Manchess, and thousands like us,  I have a fondness for astronauts, NASA, and space programs, having grown up and matured with these sciences through the decades.  Now mid-career, my mind turns to those childhood sources of inspiration to reassess that content and find new meaning through the lenses of my developing artistic aesthetics.  Gone are those overly ambitious dreams of walking on the Moon like Neal Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, or Alan Bean.   I am too old, the door was long closed on that path.

Rather I am now reflecting upon what the Space Programs will mean for my children and their future progeny.  How will they see these great achievements of humanity?  Will we humans reach the stars, or even another heavenly body again in my lifetime...or ever?  I question whether we will again see a human lifted out of near Earth orbit, for our robots have become so much more efficient at  interplanetary tasking, travel and exploration.  Sending a human will always mean a round trip ticket, while a robot never misses home.  I do not have answers these days, only questions...

My thanks to Murray and Mary Ellen for giving me the chance to bring a voice to my dreams, and hope that the past may supply the fruit to bring forth a brighter future.

And thank you to my daughters Cecilia and Naomi for providing the inspiration for this work...may your roads take you beyond the confines of our world.

preliminary drawing after references  24" x 18"
initial acrylic lay in      32" x 24"

Whispers   near completion final art       32" x 24"     Oil on panel


  1. Enthralling concept, with a beautiful painting to bring it to life. So glad you got the chance to paint this idea!

  2. Wonderful painting! There are so many variables to the story it tells! Like you, I grew up with this new science. I remember Alan Shepards flight like it was yesterday and this painting brings back those dreams of childhood very clearly. Great job.

  3. This is a beautiful concept, masterfully executed. This image evokes a sense of wonder, and suggests a story that's magical and mysterious. This is one of my favorites!

  4. Excellent work! Given this image I'd love to see what else is in store for us from that wish list. Here's hoping you get the opportunity to work out some more of these fantastic concepts!

  5. I love the feeling this evokes, and as always I love seeing the process, I always learn something new!

  6. Wow Donato, that's a stunning piece!

  7. This is the only the second piece of visual art I have seen in my life that made me cry. I have waited so long for that kind of spontaneity. Any chance of seeing this in person? Any chance it might be at Illuxcon in September?

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